Rome Therapeutics Hits Jackpot: J&J and BMS Join the Investment Party, Boosting Series B Total to $149 Million
In a thrilling twist for Boston’s cutting-edge biotech, Rome Therapeutics has attracted heavyweight investors, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb, to supercharge its Series B extension with a staggering $72 million infusion. This boost catapults the company’s total funding to a remarkable $149 million.
Rome Therapeutics is on a mission to illuminate the darkest corners of the human genome, delving into the enigmatic 98% known as the ‘dark genome.’ This largely uncharted territory is brimming with genomic repeats nestled within the non-coding regions of our genetic blueprint.
With these substantial funds at their disposal, Rome Therapeutics is now primed to usher its leading candidate into clinical trials, marking a significant milestone for the company.
CEO Rosana Kapeller exuded excitement, stating, “Capital from this raise enables us to progress our lead program into clinical trials and advance our pipeline and platform—collectively demonstrating the ability to translate our unique understanding of the dark genome, specifically the viral-like elements within it, into transformative therapies.”
The star of their portfolio is a formidable inhibitor targeting LINE-1 reverse transcriptase, a viral-like protein notorious for triggering immune responses that contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases. What sets this candidate apart is its selective expression in diseased cells while sparing healthy ones. This tantalizing feature hints at the potential to quell pathogenic inflammation without compromising the body’s immune defense against infections.
The LINE-1 RT inhibitor is poised to tackle a range of autoimmune conditions, including the formidable lupus. The Series B extension funds will be dedicated to early-stage trials, encompassing Phase I and pivotal proof-of-mechanism studies.
Beyond this groundbreaking endeavor, Rome Therapeutics has a treasure trove of programs in its discovery pipeline, including a dedicated focus on oncology. Their innovative approach aims to target cancer cells characterized by elevated levels of repeat-derived antigens and repeat-induced genomic instability, promising a fresh perspective on cancer therapy. Additionally, the company has its sights set on addressing neurodegeneration, a critical and challenging frontier in medical science.
The initial Series B was initially unveiled in 2021, boasting investments from Sanofi’s investment arm, alongside other prominent backers like ARCH Ventures, GV, and Mass General Brigham Ventures. This latest Series B extension adds illustrious newcomers to the fold, with industry giants BMS and J&J joining the ranks.
It’s worth noting that Rome Therapeutics isn’t Johnson & Johnson’s first venture into the enigmatic realm of the dark genome. In 2022, the pharmaceutical powerhouse’s venture fund participated in a substantial $42 million Series A funding round for the UK-based biotech sensation, Nucleome Therapeutics. Nucleome is also on a quest to conquer autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.